It is with great sadness that African Studies Association announces the death of Professor Tejumola Olaniyan, one of the most accomplished of our community. He served on the African Studies Association’s Board of Directors from 2012 to 2015, as Program Co-Chair for the 2012 ASA Annual Meeting, and was the President of the African Literature Association from 2013 to 2014 ; he was currently serving as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA). Professor Olaniyan was a vibrant presence at our annual meetings, including at the one a few short days ago, when we gathered in Boston. He died from sudden heart failure at his home in Wisconsin-Madison. He had just turned 60 on 3 April this year.
Professor Olaniyan earned his BA, MA in Ife, where he studied under Wole Soyinka, and an MA and PhD from Cornell University. He was the Louis Durham Mead Professor in English and the Wole Soyinka Humanities Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His works include: Scars of Conquest/ Masks of Resistance (1995); Arrest the Music: Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics (2004); African Drama and Performance (co-edited with John Conteh-Morgan, 2004); African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory (co-edited with Ato Quayson, 2007); The African Diaspora and the Disciplines (co-edited with James H. Sweet, 2010);Taking African Cartoons Seriously: Politics, Satire and Culture (co-edited with Peter Limb, 2018). He also edited State and Culture in Post-colonial Africa: Enchantings (2017). Professor Tejumola Olaniyan was completing work on his much-anticipated book on African political cartoons.
Professor Olaniyan has mentored many successful scholars at different stages of their careers and was much loved and admired by both students and colleagues for his uncompromising intellectual rigor and his consistent kindness. He was a great institutional builder but also a gentle nourisher of persons.
He is survived by his wife, Mojisola Olaniyan, who is the assistant dean and director, Academic Enhancement at University of Wisconsin, Madison Law School and his children Bolajoko and Olabimpe. He will be greatly missed.
May His Soul Rest in Peace